Students race and program self-driving robocars

Last week, four teams of students competed in a Robocar competition to see who could program and race an electronic car through Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Before they competed, each team trained their cars to be successful in the race. The teams conducted many practice laps and saved all the data using python, a programming language, to record the information for the car to drive itself. Once programmed, the car could steer on its own, but had the throttle controlled by a team member. After all the tests and programming, each of the four teams raced their cars to see who had the fastest time.

Amazon Robocars

Students programming their cars                               

The winning team was team number 3 which consisted of Jared Poston, Nathan Gurley, Ben Baacke, and Sam Groth, all computer science majors in CEC. “Going through the whole process was really neat, and seeing our car successfully complete the course gave me a true sense of pride and accomplishment,” stated Baacke.

Although this process and competition was not easy for the winning team, they still experienced hardships along the way. From spotty WiFi to a uncalibrated car, the competition challenged the team until the very end. Even with all these difficulties, the team still gained valuable knowledge from the competition.

“From this experience, I learned the basics of how machine learning works and how data can be tweaked and fixed to get computers to operate autonomously on some tasks,” Gurley explained.

We are proud of all the students who competed and hope everyone was able to learn something new! Congratulations to the winning team members, we cannot wait to see what you and the other competitors do in the future.

By Maggie Cavanaugh, CEC Communications Reporter